Center >> May 2009
Matters: Local CPAs Defy Recession
Small accounting firms are doing just fine, thank you.
by Rick Telberg/For the CPA Channel Marketer
AICPA Custom Media Solutions
The nation’s local CPA firms are emerging
as the engines of recovery for the accounting profession.
While big companies and global firms are laying
people off, the nation’s small and mid-sized firms are apparently
holding on and even surging.
The AICPA’s Mark Koziel, Senior Technical
Manager, for example, reports that “smaller CPA firms are
making it through the recession just fine.” Most are predicting
marginal growth and “some are even expecting double-digit
The reasons for their upbeat outlook:
- A great
- Fewer headache-producing
The irony, of course, is that in recent years, larger
firms and major corporations had the upper hand. But now, Koziel
says, “the tides are turning.” Layoffs at larger firms
are freeing talent for smaller firms.
Indeed, most accountants and finance executives
have come to believe in recent weeks that the worst of the banking
crisis may be behind them, but they’re not so sure about the
outlook for the rest of the nation.
In early responses to a Bay Street Group poll for
the CPA Insider™ family of e-newsletters, the number of accountants
expecting improvement for their firms and companies over the next
six to 12 months is outpacing the number expecting further deterioration
by a margin of two-to-one.
The mood reverses completely, however, when asked
about the prospect for the nation in general.
There, CPAs expect the recession to worsen by a
two-to-one ratio. Their concern stems from their inside knowledge
of their clients — most accountants see many clients suffering
and no relief in sight.
Privately, CPAs are a little embarrassed by the
disparity. And, although they can’t rescue all their clients
or single-handedly fix the broken economy, they are grateful for
their good fortune.
“The economy will continue to suffer for a
variety of reasons,” said Ron Silberstein of Maddox Ungar
Silberstein PLLC, a local firm in Bingham Farms, Mich.
Nevertheless, Silberstein is finding opportunities
for his firm. “Our firm has some niches that have resulted
in rapid growth,” he says.
Silberstein is more the rule than the exception
in the accounting community today. To be sure, accounting firms
and finance executives have not been immune from the ravages of
The Great Recession. But the accounting sector is weathering the
storm relatively strongly.
When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its
employment report earlier this month showing a loss of 511,000 jobs
across the country, the number of jobs among accountants and bookkeepers
actually grew about two percent.
“The economic decline has motivated our clients
to assist them in reviewing their financial and tax positions,”
says Roy L. Goodrich of Goodrich Baron Goodyear LLP in Long Beach,
Calif. “We have increased our business development efforts.”
Goodrich apparently knows what sound business minds
have known for a long time.
The time to be growing is when others are shrinking,
buying when others are selling. Or as Warren Buffet, the Sage of
Omaha, once said, “Bear fearful when others are greedy, and
be greedy when others are fearful.”
for CPA Channel Marketers by Rick Telberg:
is president of Bay
Street Group LLC, which provides research and marketing and
communications services to CPA firms and the vendors who serve them.
He is the founding editor of the Insider newsletters and serves
as AICPA Editor at Large and Director of Online Content. In his
two decades in media and marketing for the finance, tax and accounting
industries, Telberg has played pivotal roles in the development
and operation of the leading media and e-commerce outlets in the
business, including Accounting Today, The Practical Accountant,
Accounting Technology, WebCPA.com, SmartPros.com, and CPA2Biz.com.
Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (914) 674-4531. He blogs at cpatrendlines.com.
Trendlines on Twitter.